When it comes time to replace the flooring in your home or choose the flooring for your new home, more and more people these days are opting to switch out the standard carpeting for hardwood floors. There are many reasons for this but the fact of the matter is that despite all of its advantages, hardwood floors are undeniably harder to keep warm in the winter than carpet. It’s an all too familiar feeling to many. You wake up on a cold winter morning. You slide out of your bed slowly and groggily. You scoot across your carpeted bedroom floor and then your feet hit the hardwood of the hall. Just like that, a shock of cold hits your feet and you know nothing less than wool socks are going to make up for the frigid temperature of the solid floor beneath you.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. There are methods for keeping hardwood floors warm even in the darkest depths of winter. Some of these methods are more effective than others and some are more efficient and cheaper than others. The right method for you will depend on your needs, wants, and budget. Read on to find out more about how one can improve one’s Austin heating and warm up the hardwood floors in one’s home.
Hardwood Floors’ Heating Advantage
Before we get into specific products and methods through which you can keep your hardwood floors warmer in the fall and winter let’s first look at some of the reasons why people choose hardwood floors in the first place and the surprising reason why hardwood floor is actually an advantage when it comes to home heating in Austin.
It is true that carpet generally feels warmer on the feet than unassisted hardwood and it generally costs less, hardwood floors are becoming more and more popular today. One reason why is the obvious fact that hardwood floors are so much easier to clean. The difference in the magnitude of the situation between spilling wine on a carpet versus a hardwood floor is one of night and day. Carpet also tends to wear out and become disheveled and in need of repair or replacing much sooner than nice hardwood. Add to that the fact that hardwood often just looks much nicer and significantly raises the value of your home and you’ve got a winning combination of features that all point toward hardwood.
One advantage of hardwood floor that many people aren’t aware of is that it actually helps you heat your home and keep it warm while reducing the strain on your heater to do so. The reason is that carpet is an insulator and wood is a conductor. Carpet stops heat from moving while wood absorbs heat and also allows it circulate. Many people have a false idea that carpet holds onto the heat but really it just reduces the flow of energy in your home. This means that your furnace has to work much harder to push heat through your home and over carpets and warm up your entire house. On the other hand, wood improves your home’s heat circulation by allowing heat to pass through it. Especially in homes with radiant heating systems, wood conducts heat and allows it to get to you more easily while carpet requires higher heat settings to get the warmth into your living areas.
Hardwood floors also maintain heat longer than carpet because they have a higher thermal mass. That means that wood and other solid materials significantly reduce your home’s temperature fluctuation because they absorb and store heat while light carpet fibers simply become a barrier. This phenomenon holds true for other solid materials too like the tile in your kitchen. Having materials with high thermal mass in your home saves money on your utilities because your house doesn’t have to work as hard to maintain the cool air during the hot days or keep its warmth late at night and in the winter. The temperature stays more constant and less energy is wasted by your heater. Hardwood floors aren’t just pretty, they’re smart too.
Sunlight, Rugs and Socks
Before we get into the more sophisticated and large scale projects that can make a significant impact on the warmth of your hardwood floors lets run through the cheaper and easier methods, most of which you can probably implement today if you haven’t considered them already. These are the little things you can do that will make a big difference when it comes to how cold your hardwood floors make you.
The first and most obvious way to keep warmer in your home despite cool touch of your hardwood floors is to dress warmer. In fact, dressing warmer at home is not just good for you; it’s good for your utility bill and your heater’s lifespan as well. The lower you can set your thermostat while still maintaining comfortable, the more you’ll save on your bills and the less wear and tear your heater will get. So pack on a sweater or two and don’t forget to stock up on a few warm socks.
Heavy curtains and drapes will act to trap heat in the house when there’s little or no sunlight outside. They work as an extra level of insulation for your windows that effectively keeps the heat that your heater generates from escaping via the convective properties of the windows. But, when it is sunny outside, open up those curtains and blinds of windows that are facing the sun so you can take full advantage of the completely free heat that it provides. There’s no cheaper way to heat your hardwood floors than to let direct sunlight hit them.
Rugs can make a difference too. The opportunely placed rug here and there around the living room and hallways can actually help keep your hardwood floors warm by a significant amount, even the parts that aren’t directly beneath the rugs. In areas that your family spends significant amounts of time it is a good idea to place a large rug in the room to provide heat to the floor. Some rugs are generously lush and warm creating an enjoyable contrast to the cold hardwood. Area rugs are a common and effective way of providing heat to your floors, even if you only need the rugs in the winter.
One of the most important factors that will make the difference between terribly cold hardwood floors and pleasantly neutral hardwood floors is the insulation situation. The first thing you want to do when considering this factor is to make sure you’re not getting any unnecessary coldness sweeping in across the floor due to drafts. Cold air will find any entrance it can and take it into your home. It will creep through the smallest of gaps around windows, doors, and outlets and just as hot air rises, cold air will fall. Meaning any air leaks in your home are going to bring cold air right down onto your hardwood floors.
Weather stripping isn’t very expensive or hard to install. Use it to improve the insulation of your home and keep out drafts. This can make a significant difference in the warmth of your floor. Not to mention the more drafts you eliminate the more energy efficient your house will become.
Another incredibly easy way to make sure you’re letting as little of the outside cool air in as possible is just to make sure all your doors and windows are closed as often as possible. Insulation is your greatest weapon against cold hardwood floors and that means doing all you can to keep your house sealed tight from the outside air.
If you’re thinking of getting hardwood floors installed in your existing home or a new construction home and you’re trying to decide what type or what options to look at, don’t overlook under floor insulation. Installing insulation to your flooring before fitting your floor boards can help to make your room feel noticeably warmer. According to the Energy Saving Trust, fitting insulation under your existing floor boards can save you a significant amount in energy bills, making insulation a wise long term energy saving investment for your home. It can also help to prevent draughts rising through the boards and around areas of skirting, as well as act to lessen the noise of footsteps.
Heated Wood Flooring
This last method is both biggest investment as well as the most effective method of achieving warm hardwood flooring. It’s heated hardwood floor installation. Radiant under floor heating is a luxurious way of not only assisting your regular heater in warming your home during the winter but also keeping you comfortable from your head to your toes all day long. For a floor that offers both beauty and comfort, it is hard to beat heated hardwood flooring. Depending on where you live, radiant heating can be used as the sole heat source, but it can also be used as a supplement in conjunction with other heating. Heated wood floors the comfort at its highest level.
Modern under floor heating systems use either electrical resistance elements or fluid flowing in pipes to heat the floor. Either type can be installed as the primary, whole-building heating system or as localized floor heating for thermal comfort. Electrical resistance can only be used for heating; when space cooling is also required, hydronic systems must be used. A range of under floor heating systems and designs are available to suit different types of flooring.
Whether radiant, under floor heating is right for you is going to depend on a number of factors. Radiant heat is definitely more efficient in smaller, snug homes with lower roofs. Larger homes aren’t going to see much benefit from under floor heating if any in terms of energy savings. Also if you already have wood floors then the process of digging those up and installing the radiant heating system then replacing the hardwood floors is going to be expensive and labor intensive. This option is most convenient when you’re getting ready to replace your flooring anyway.
Warm Hardwood Floors and Heating Repair in Austin
It isn’t always easy staying warm in the winter, and doing so while also staying energy efficient is even harder. Hardwood floors are great for many reasons. They look good; they’re easier to clean; and they help your home circulate heat. But the floors themselves can often be cold to the touch which can significantly lower your comfort while lounging around the house. Hopefully with some of the tips above you’re able to mitigate this small downside to hardwood flooring.
And don’t forget that getting an annual checkup on your heater is the best way to ensure it has a long life and is taking as little energy as possible to provide you with the heat you need in the winter. AC Express is an Austin heater repair company that operates all over the area from Georgetown and Cedar Park to Leander and Liberty Hill. If you ever need heater repair in Austin don’t hesitate, call today!